What Causes Cloudy Vision in One Eye?

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Having cloudy vision makes it seem as though you're always looking through a fog or haze. It can occur in one or both eyes, and be the sign of a minor issue or a more serious condition.

Mature woman, portrait, close-up of left eye

Christopher Robbins / Getty Images

What Is Cloudy Vision?

Though they may sound similar, there is a difference between "cloudy" and "blurry" vision.

  • Cloudy vision feels like you're looking at everything through a fog or a haze.
  • Blurry vision means that what you're seeing is out of focus.

Here, we're going to review cloudy vision, which can affect either one or both eyes. In addition to feeling like you're looking through a dirty or foggy window, cloudy vision can also include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing faded colors or halos around lights
  • Difficulty seeing at night

Cloudy vision can be temporary—resulting from a minor issue like a floater—or may be permanent unless treated with surgery, like cataracts.

Causes

There are a variety of different conditions that could cause cloudy vision, ranging from minor to serious, and common to rare. Here's what to know about these conditions, including their symptoms other than cloudy vision.

Common Causes

Floaters

Eye floaters are one of the most common causes of both cloudy and blurry vision. These can look like squiggly lines, blobs or other shapes moving over your vision.

In most cases, floaters are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own. But if many appear suddenly, or they results in either central peripheral vision loss, it's time to see a doctor.

Injury, Infection, or Inflammation

Sometimes, cloudy vision may result from an:

Seek medical treatment for the underlying condition to help get rid of the cloudy vision.

Cataracts

In cases of mild cataracts, a person may not initially have symptoms. But eventually, the most recognizable signs of the condition are cloudy vision, and a person's lens becoming visibly cloudy to others. This is the result of the proteins in the eye breaking down and clumping together. The clumps appear as cloudy spots on a person's lens, known as cataracts.

Other symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Colors look faded
  • Poor vision at night
  • Lamps, sunlight, or headlights seem too bright
  • Halos appear around lights
  • Double vision
  • Frequently having to change the prescription for your glasses

Rare Causes

Fuchs’ Dystrophy

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a disease of the cornea that occurs when cells in the inner corneal layer die off. This results in fluid building up on the cornea, and a person's vision becoming cloudy or blurry.

There are two stages of Fuchs' dystrophy. In the first stage, many people don't notice any symptoms—and if they do, it's cloudy vision when they first wake up in the morning.

Symptoms of the second stage don't go away over the course of the day and can include:

  • Sandy or gritty feeling in your eyes
  • Being extra sensitive to bright light
  • Eye problems get worse in humid areas
  • Very blurry or hazy vision from scarring at the center of the cornea

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macula at the back of the eye starts to deteriorate. Symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Blank or dark spots in your field of vision
  • The appearance of waves or curves in straight lines

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause cloudy vision or vision loss in people who have diabetes.

While the early stages of diabetic retinopathy typically doesn't come with noticeable symptoms, later stages may include changes in vision, or seeing dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs.

When to See a Doctor

Any time there are any issues with your vision—including cloudy vision in one or both eyes—it's a good idea to see a doctor to make sure there's nothing seriously wrong with your eye or eyes.

In addition to cloudy vision in one or both eyes, get a complete eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist if you have:

  • Trouble seeing objects in your peripheral vision.
  • Difficulty seeing at night or when reading.
  • A gradual loss of the sharpness of your vision.
  • Difficulty telling colors apart.
  • Blurred vision when trying to view objects near or far.
  • Diabetes or a family history of diabetes.
  • Eye itching or discharge.
  • Vision changes that seem related to medication. (Although, don't stop or change a medicine without talking to your doctor

When Is Sudden Cloudy Vision in One Eye a Medical Emergency?

In some cases, sudden cloudy vision in one or both eyes could be the sign of something serious, and requires emergency medical treatment. These include:

  • Experiencing partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes, even if it is only temporary.
  • Experiencing double vision, even if it is temporary.
  • Having a sensation of a shade being pulled over your eyes or a curtain being drawn from the side, above, or below.
  • Experiencing blind spots, halos around lights, or areas of distorted vision appear suddenly.
  • Having sudden blurred vision with eye pain, particularly if the eye is also red. A red, painful eye with blurred vision is a medical emergency

Treatment

The treatments for cloudy vision in one or both eyes depends on its root cause. For example

  • For cataracts: Surgery is the only option.
  • For Fuchs' dystrophy: There is no cure but depending on the severity of the case, it can be treated using eye drops, or a corneal transplant.
  • For macular degeneration: There is no cure, though it's commonly treated through certain nutritional supplements, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, and photodynamic therapy.
  • For diabetic retinopathy: This can be treated with eye injections, laser surgery, or other types of eye surgery.

A Word From Verywell

Cloudy vision is annoying, but it could also be an indication of something more serious happening with your eyes. Take note of when the cloudy vision started and how long it lasts, and be sure to provide your doctor with this information. And if the cloudy vision is accompanied by any of the symptoms listed above, make sure you get the medical attention you need, as quickly as possible.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eye Institute. Cataracts. Updated August 3, 2019.

  2. National Eye Institute. Floaters. Updated September 22, 2020.

  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is fuchs’ dystrophy? Updated February 28, 2020.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Age-related macular degeneration: symptoms & treatment. Updated December 21, 2020.

  5. National Eye Institute. Diabetic retinopathy. Updated August 3, 2019.

  6. MedlinePlus. Vision problems. Updated August 28, 2018.

  7. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Fuchs’ dystrophy treatment. Updated February 28, 2020.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Age-related macular degeneration management and treatment. Updated December 21, 2020.